Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Primary Day

Today is the Florida primary for local, state, and federal offices including the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.

If you live in Miami-Dade County and need a guide to the ballot and polling places, go here.  If you’re in Broward County, go here, and if you’re in Monroe County (the Keys), go here.

It’s also primary day in Arizona where Sen. John McCain faces a challenge from the right.

I’ll be voting on my way home from work.

Not Her Problem

The headline in the New York Times is ominous: “Weiner’s Texts Cast a New Cloud Over Clinton Campaign.”  The article itself sounds even more filled with danger:

It was supposed to be a quiet, late-summer weekend on the exclusive shores of the Hamptons. But on Sunday, Huma Abedin, the closest aide to Hillary Clinton, received devastating news.

After accompanying Mrs. Clinton to fund-raisers, Ms. Abedin learned from her husband, Anthony D. Weiner, that The New York Post was about to report that he had again exchanged lewd messages with a woman on social media: the sort of behavior that destroyed his congressional career and 2013 mayoral campaign.

Only this time, the online indiscretions included an image of Mr. Weiner’s crotch as he lay next to the couple’s 4-year-old son.

Now, Mr. Weiner’s tawdry activities may have claimed his marriage — Ms. Abedin told him that she wanted to separate — and have cast another shadow on the adviser and confidante who has been by Mrs. Clinton’s side for the past two decades. Ms. Abedin was already a major figure this summer in controversies over Mrs. Clinton’s handling of classified information as secretary of state and over ties between the Clinton family foundation and Mrs. Clinton’s State Department.

Mr. Weiner’s extramarital behavior also threatens to remind voters about the troubles in the Clintons’ own marriage over the decades, including Mrs. Clinton’s much-debated decision to remain with then-President Bill Clinton after revelations of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Ms. Abedin’s choice to separate from her husband evokes the debates that erupted over Mrs. Clinton’s handling of the Lewinsky affair, a scandal her campaign wants left in the past.

Would someone please explain to me how Ms. Abedin’s marital break-up is going to derail the Clinton campaign?  So she was married to a skank.  We knew that.  So Hillary Clinton’s husband cheated on her and was impeached.  We knew that, too; it was in all the papers.  Is the fact that Ms. Abedin was close to Ms. Clinton for two decades and received classified briefings relevant to the fact that her soon-to-be-ex behaves like a horny teenager?  “Here’s a shot of my basket, honey; tell me what Vladimir Putin is planning for Ukraine.”

It’s sad when any marriage breaks up, especially when there are children in the mix — although in this case it’s probably a good thing that the four-year-old may no longer be in the picture, so to speak — but unless there’s a real point to making the woman sound like a patsy and incapable of doing her job without her husband around  — and there most assuredly is not — this kind of patronizing pearl-clutching is bullshit.  And it has nothing whatsoever to do with Hillary Clinton or her qualifications to be president.

By the way, if marital fidelity and domestic turmoil are to be metrics for judging the viability of a candidate, the antics of the Trump family and the court records of Steve Bannon, Mr. Trump’s newly-hired campaign chairman, would disqualify that crowd from getting beyond the spitballing stage of a bad idea for a reality show on basic cable.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Short Takes

Volunteers help out in Italy’s quake zone.

Loud noises cause panic at L.A. airport, but no shooting.

Donald Trump will try to clarify his stand on immigration in a speech.

Fire chief among two killed after bus hits crash scene.

Tropical Update: What was Invest 99L is now TD Nine and churning in the Gulf of Mexico.  Also, folks in North Carolina need to keep an eye on TD Eight.

The Tigers had a tough weekend with L.A.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday Reading

Planning Ahead — Charlie Pierce on how the GOP will undermine Hillary Clinton, just like they did Barack Obama.

Well, I’ll be needing a Prestone gimlet or five.

Not that anybody will remember this little thing from Tiger Beat On The Potomac in March of 2017, when everybody will be writing about how Hillary Rodham Clinton’s strident rhetoric during the campaign has crippled her ability to govern effectively, or to “reach across the aisle,” or to “create bipartisan solutions.” But I thought it ought to be noted for the record that the Republican commitment to institutional vandalism will not be going anywhere any time soon, and that there are Republicans—and a few Democrats and faux independents—who see an inert executive to be a political opportunity.

That means the bipartisan show of support she has now—thanks to Donald Trump and the “alt-right,” conspiracy-driven campaign Clinton attacked Thursday in Reno—is likely to evaporate as soon as the race is called. If she wins the presidency, Clinton would likely enjoy the shortest honeymoon period of any incoming commander-in-chief in recent history, according to Washington strategists, confronting major roadblocks to enacting her ambitious agenda, as well as Republican attacks that have been muted courtesy of the GOP nominee. “It will be the defining fact of her presidency,” Jonathan Cowan, president of the moderate think tank Third Way, said of Clinton’s problem of entering office with a divided Congress. “It’s unprecedented.”

Good Lord, not these people again. They represent nobody. There is no viable constituency for anything they represent. The Republicans are going to be bad enough, but all HRC is going to need is to be heckled from the Joe Lieberman Memorial Peanut Gallery, especially with Zombie Evan Bayh on the verge of reappearing in the Senate, after his sabbatical during which he helped save representative democracy by being a lobbyist.

And check out the example cited in the piece.

Republicans operatives on the Hill, for instance, are already planning to block Clinton’s agenda by strategically targeting individual Democratic senators who will be up for reelection in 2018. “Take Joe Manchin in West Virginia,” explained one GOP operative of the strategy. “If Hillary puts up an anti-coal pro-EPA judge for the Supreme Court, the smart play is to start pressuring him with an advocacy campaign to vote no.” Voting with Clinton would jeopardize his reelection chances, and voting against her would rob her of a Democratic Senate vote she couldn’t afford to lose without the 60 votes needed to filibuster.

Yes, One GOP Operative, this is just the week to be concerned about the political viability of the Manchin clan.

If HRC wins the election, it is going to be in great part because a Republican Party that ate the monkeybrains 40 years ago has developed within itself a prion disease that has produced a public hallucination instead of a candidate. She should not govern by pretending that the prion disease will disappear because El Caudillo de Mar-A-Lago cratered. If the Republicans decide to freeze the agenda, to the detriment of the country, that has to be framed by the administration as a further example of the political dementia that also produced Donald Trump.

Short-Arm Inspection — Molly Stier in The Nation on the hard-core reaction to Texas’ law allowing open carry on college campuses.

College senior Julia Dixon stuck a dildo in the side pocket of her backpack as she headed to campus, setting out to conquer her final first day of classes as an undergraduate student. A sex toy might be the last thing you’d expect to see in a college lecture hall, but on Wednesday, August 24, Dixon and thousands of University of Texas students were participating in what some are calling the largest anti-gun protest in Texas history.

“As much fun and hilarious protesting with dildos may be, the issue behind it all is nothing to joke about,” Dixon said.

Dixon is referring to Texas’s passage of Senate Bill 11—commonly known as campus carry—which permits concealed handgun license holders to carry guns in all public universities in the state. The legislation went into effect on August 1. It coincided with the 50th anniversary of the University of Texas tower massacre, an event widely regarded as the first mass shooting in the country, where a sniper perched atop the campus’s main building shot 43 people, 13 of whom were killed. To fight the bill, students, faculty, staff, and parents gathered on the UT Austin campus on Wednesday to participate in an event called “Cocks Not Glocks.”

“If you’re uncomfortable with dildos, how do you think I feel about your gun?” student protester Rosie Zander shouted to the crowd gathered on the west side of the UT tower.

The protesters—dildos in hand, on backpacks, strapped to waists, suction-cupped to foreheads—gathered to listen to local progressive leaders, like Austin City Council member Kathie Tovo and Democratic candidate for state representative Gina Hinojosa, as well as members from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Cocks Not Glocks leaders Jessica Jin and Ana López.

Jin, a UT alum working for a tech startup in San Francisco, had her work cut out for her as soon as her plane touched down in Austin this week. She teamed up with allies to promote the event, making videos with dramatic Shakespearean monologues and jazz bands whose sets were decked out in dildos swinging from the ceiling. Days before classes started, she got word that the The Daily Show would be sending a correspondent to cover the event. She had more than 4,000 sex toys sitting in boxes crowding the apartments of her co-organizers, waiting to be distributed before Wednesday.

To deal with the latter, Jin, López, and co-organizer Kailey Moore held a dildo distribution rally the day before classes began. They liquidated their sex toy stock, all donated by companies based everywhere from Austin to Singapore, in 23 minutes.

The popularity of the event can be credited, in part, to how long it was planned in advance. Cocks Not Glocks has been in the works since October, after Jin learned that her home state would become the eighth in the country to allow students to carry guns on campuses.

As a Texan hailing from San Antonio, Jin got the gun thing. She understood that it was fun to go out shooting on a friend’s ranch, and she saw the value in getting a concealed-handgun license, having considered getting one herself. But with guns now making their way into classrooms, she thought enough was enough.

The idea came shortly after the Umpqua Community College shooting in Oregon, where a gunman killed nine and injured nine others before turning the gun on himself. Jin sat in Austin traffic and listened to an uninspiring discussion on gun violence in this country.

“What a bunch of dildos,” she called the commentators—and then something clicked.

After digging into the UT code of conduct, she found that the university defaults to Texas law in prohibiting obscenity, which is defined as making public “a dildo or artificial vagina, designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs.”

She took to Facebook to create an event she titled “Cocks Not Glocks”—calling on the UT Austin community to strap sex toys to their backpacks on the first day of classes.

“You’re carrying a gun to class? Yeah well I’m carrying a HUGE DILDO,” Jin wrote on the event page. “Just about as effective at protecting us from sociopathic shooters, but much safer for recreational play.”

Jin, proud of what she thought would be a small joke, shut her laptop, went to bed, and woke up to find that her event had gone viral. She went from being indifferent to gun issues, to being thrown into the arena of gun activism overnight.

In the following months, Jin’s Facebook event garnered 10,000 members. She flipped her once-neutral stance on gun issues, and began attending gun safety–advocacy gatherings, meeting professors, students, and people personally affected by gun violence. She actively confronted her trolls, who argued that guns would protect her from being assaulted or raped. One Second Amendment enthusiast went so far as to publish her address online, instructing people to “let her know how they felt” about her protest.

“Nobody really wants to be an activist in this space because of the amount of hate that you get and the amount of abuse that you have to undergo,” Jin said.

Gun rights zealots threatened the demonstration, but to no avail. Rather than using aggression, one member of the national pro-gun group Students for Concealed Carry carried a sign reading “Coexist,” intended to communicate solidarity with the right to free speech and to also highlight its ability to exist with concealed carry.

“It’s an issue of personal liberty,” said Brian Bensimon, a UT student and the organization’s Texas director. “It’s a matter of rights and when you consider that concealed carry is allowed in museums, grocery stores, and even at our own state capitol, that there’s not really a reason to ban it from colleges.”

Other Texan students echoed this sentiment. C.J. Grisham, a Texas A&M student and army veteran who carries his gun on campus, specifically challenged a growing concern held especially by faculty.

“This idea that it’s going to stifle debate is asinine and absurd,” Grisham said. “It’s just a narrative by anti-gun, liberal professors to undermine our rights.”

Professors are among the most vocal about their opposition to the law, their most common worry being that the presence of guns in classrooms will chill academic discourse. Over the past few months, thousands of professors have signed petitions and begun discussions on Facebook about the new policy, debating how to word their syllabi and the extent of their obligation to observe the law. Three UT Austin professors went so far as to file a lawsuit against the university and the state. Their request for a preliminary injunction, which would have blocked implementation of the law before the first day of class, was denied on August 21, but the case will continue on to trial.

“This is a fight that needs to happen in Texas,” said Mia Carter, UT Austin literature professor and a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

In a similar spirit, Jin is instructing students to keep the movement going until the law is repealed.

“Dildos should be on backpacks as long as there are guns in backpacks,” she said.

Almost Got Away — Humor from Andy Borowitz.

VIRGINIA (The Borowitz Report)—Calling it a “scary moment” and a “close call,” Donald Trump’s campaign officials confirmed that they had recaptured Mike Pence after the Indiana governor attempted to flee the campaign bus in the early hours of Friday morning.

According to the campaign, Pence had asked to stop at a McDonald’s in rural Virginia so that he could use the bathroom, but aides grew concerned when the governor failed to reappear after twenty minutes.

After determining that Pence had given them the slip, Trump staffers fanned out across the Virginia backcountry, where the governor was believed to have fled.

News that Pence had vanished touched off a panic in Indiana, where residents feared that he might return to resume his political career.

After forty-five minutes of searching, however, campaign officials located a bedraggled and dazed Pence walking along Virginia State Route 287, where the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee was attempting unsuccessfully to hitch a ride.

A confrontation that Trump aides characterized as “tense” ensued, after which a sobbing Pence returned to the bus.

In the aftermath of Pence’s disappearance, Hope Hicks, Trump’s press secretary, attempted to downplay the severity of the incident. “This is the kind of thing that happens in the course of a long and demanding campaign,” she said. “Having said that, we’re grateful to have Mike Pence back with us, and we won’t let him get away again.”

Reportedly, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie offered to fill in for Pence in the event that he became unable to fulfill his duties. That offer was declined.

Doonesbury — Daydreamin’.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Right Cross

Hillary Clinton laid out the truth about Donald Trump and his flirtations — and sometimes embraces — with the far right nutsery and white racists yesterday.  Here’s the transcript.

You can expect the usual suspects in the press will come out with the usual “both sides do it” meme somewhere along the lines of “Scientist Claims Earth is Flat; Others Disagree.”  But it is about damn time that someone besides certain bloggers pointed out that the Republican candidate reeks of racism that goes far beyond the dog whistles and sly suggestions that non-existent voter fraud occurs in “certain places” and that all black people live in desperate poverty and there’s no hope.

And you can expect defenders of the GOP for saying something along the lines of “But that’s not who we are.”  Yeah, it is and has been that way for the last fifty years.

Correcting The Record

Remember the post about Donald Trump saying he met with a “top cop” in Chicago and talked about getting tough?

According to the Chicago police, it never happened.

The Chicago Police Department denied Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s claim this week that he met with a “top” Chicago officer and argued the city’s violence would not be solved with “tough police tactics.”

“We’ve discredited this claim months ago,” CPD spokesperson Frank Giancamilli said Tuesday in a statement. “No one in the senior command at CPD has ever met with Donald Trump or a member of his campaign.”

I know; I’m totally surprised that he would bullshit about that.  Actually, I’m not at all surprised.  I was just waiting for confirmation.  Like I needed it.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

They Deserve Each Other

On the very day that Ann Coulter, the whitest woman in America, releases her new book that lathers up her affection and devotion for Donald Trump, he goes mushy on immigration, the one topic that Ms. Coulter never gives ground on.

Oh, she is pissed.

Would you like some popcorn with your schadenfreude?

A Great Big Nothingburger

Matthew Yglesias looks into the AP’s exposé of the Clinton Foundation and finds it’s a lot of smoke generated by the media.

Tuesday afternoon, Stephen Braun and Eileen Sullivan of the Associated Press released the results of a review of State Department appointment data that they used to make some striking claims about Hillary Clinton’s schedule as secretary of state.

According to their reporting, Clinton spent a remarkably large share of her time as America’s chief diplomat talking to people who had donated money to the Clinton Foundation. She went out of her way to help these Clinton Foundation donors, and her decision to do so raises important concerns about the ethics of her conduct as secretary and potentially as president. It’s a striking piece of reporting that made immediate waves in my social media feed, as political journalists of all stripes retweeted the story’s headline conclusions.

Except it turns out not to be true. The nut fact that the AP uses to lead its coverage is wrong, and Braun and Sullivan’s reporting reveals absolutely no unethical conduct. In fact, they found so little unethical conduct that an enormous amount of space is taken up by a detailed recounting of the time Clinton tried to help a former Nobel Peace Prize winner who’s also the recipient of a Congressional Gold Medal and a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Here’s the bottom line: Serving as secretary of state while your husband raises millions of dollars for a charitable foundation that is also a vehicle for your family’s political ambitions really does create a lot of space for potential conflicts of interest. Journalists have, rightly, scrutinized the situation closely. And however many times they take a run at it, they don’t come up with anything more scandalous than the revelation that maybe billionaire philanthropists have an easier time getting the State Department to look into their visa problems than an ordinary person would.

More than a year ago, Jon Allen wrote for Vox about the special “Clinton Rules” that have governed much reporting on Bill and Hillary Clinton over the past 25 years. On the list are the notions that even the most ridiculous charges are worthy of massive investigation, that the Clintons’ bad faith will always be presumed, and that actions that would normally be deemed banal are newsworthy simply because the Clintons are involved.

The blockbuster AP story released Tuesday afternoon fits the model to a T.

Read the whole thing.  To quote commenter Baud at Balloon Juice, where there’s smoke, there is someone blowing smoke.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Tough Act

Donald Trump told Bill O’Reilly that he wants the cops to get tough with criminals.

“They are right now not tough. I mean, I could tell you this very long and quite boring story but when I was in Chicago, I got to meet a couple of very top police. I said, ‘How do you stop this? How do you stop this? If you were put in charge,’ to a specific person, ‘Do you think you could stop it?’ He said, ‘Mr. Trump, I would be able to stop it in one week.’ And I believed him 100 percent.”

Further efforts to clarify what exactly this “specific person” would do and what “tough police tactics” are did not get far.

“You have to have a warrant to arrest people,” O’Reilly said. “You can’t beat them up.”

Trump replied that he didn’t ask for an exact plan because he’s “not the mayor of Chicago.”

How about if they all wore brown shirts?  It’s worked before.

Safe Bets

Politico wonders why Donald Trump is campaigning in states he will win such as Texas and Mississippi and states he will most assuredly lose such as Connecticut.

“I have never known a general election campaign in my adult life, a Republican campaign, to spend time in Mississippi outside of raising money,” said Austin Barbour, a Mississippi-based Republican operative. “Donald Trump’s going to win Mississippi by at least double digits.”

But Trump is behind, several polls show, in North Carolina, a state that has gone Republican in eight of the past nine presidential elections. Georgia, which hasn’t voted Democratic since 1992, is competitive, with the latest poll showing a tied race. And more traditional battleground states have moved away from Trump: Ohio, which polls showed was a tied race last month, is now tilting in Hillary Clinton’s direction. Meanwhile, he is up in Mississippi by double digits, one recent survey shows.

“Going and doing a big event, that takes a lot of valuable time, that’s another stop you could make in Pensacola, Florida,” Barbour said. “Georgia’s close this year, North Carolina, there’s lots of places … It’s a confusing strategy. You only have a certain number of days.”

Either someone in the campaign headquarters is thinking that if you win a state by double digits that somehow matters in the electoral college vote.  Which it doesn’t.  It’s winner-take-all, even if it’s by 500 votes (see Florida 2000) except in Maine and Nebraska.

My guess is that by campaigning in safe places like Texas and Mississippi, Mr. Trump is guaranteed both white and adoring audiences, which he thrives on.  Then again, he campaigned in Austin, Texas, which is an oasis of liberals in a sea of right-wingers, and also in Connecticut, which is so not Trump territory; both places a waste of time.

Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to point and laugh.

“I Know A Bigot When I See A Bigot”

Charles Blow does not mince words in an appearance on CNN.  Via Mother Jones:

While discussing Donald Trump’s attempts to convince African Americans to back his presidential bid—a pitch the candidate recently summarized as “What the hell do you have to lose?”—New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow took a moment on Monday to explain to Bruce Levell, a Trump delegate from Georgia, the bigotry at the center of the real estate magnate’s campaign and why supporting Trump implicitly validates such hatred.

“Donald Trump is a bigot, there’s no other way to get around it,” Blow said. “Anybody who accepts that, supports it. Anybody supports it is promoting it and that makes you a part of the bigotry itself. You have to decide whether or not you want to be part of the bigotry that is Donald Trump. You have to decide whether you want to be part of the sexism and misogyny that is Donald Trump.”

Levell responded by accusing Hillary Clinton’s campaign of creating the “false facade” that Trump is a racist.

“I’m not part of the Clinton campaign,” Blow interjected. “I’m a black man in America and I know a bigot when I see a bigot.”

Can’t argue with that, and don’t even try.

Short Takes

President Obama tells Baton Rouge “You are not alone.”

Clinton continues big lead over Trump.

New Zika outbreak found in St. Petersburg.

Federal court upholds cut in Ohio early voting.

Tropical Update: Invest 99L is moving west.

The Tigers beat the Twins 8-3.

R.I.P. Steven Hill, 94, actor best remembered as D.A. Adam Schiff for ten seasons on Law & Order.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Correcting The Record

Kellyanne Conway, campaign manager for Donald Trump, defended her candidate against the charge that he insults people.

CONWAY: […] I don’t like when people hurl personal insults. That will never change. That’s not my style. I’m a mother of four small children. And it would be a terrible example for me to feel otherwise –

STEPHANOPOULOS: You think Mr. Trump’s going to change on that?

CONWAY: Well, but he doesn’t hurl personal insults.

Oh, really? Would you like a typewritten list?

Juvenile Detention

I don’t care a whole lot for Joe Scarborough and his snarky sanctimony, and Mika Brzezinski is the dictionary definition of a concern troll, but for Donald Trump to go after both of them with some kind of innuendo about their personal lives and each other is what you’d expect from a middle-school taunt-fest, not from someone vying for the presidency.

Maybe this will explain that.

One Colorado 12-year-old is spending his summer vacation helping Donald Trump get elected by running the campaign’s field office in one of the state’s most populous counties.

The Trump campaign’s field office in Jefferson County, which includes the greater Denver area, is largely run by Weston Imer, 12. While his mother, Laurel Imer, is listed as the office’s official field coordinator, she told KDVR that allowing her son to organize volunteers as co-chair of the county office has been a great learning experience.

“You have a responsibility to your children to teach them,” she told the station.

Imer said that last year he was bullied at school, but now he’s planning on a future White House run of his own.

“Watch for me – 2040,” he told KDVR. “Barron Trump, if you’re watching, in 2040 I’ll take you as my running mate.”

Wouldn’t this qualify as a form of child abuse?

Second Thoughts

There are some one-time Trump supporters who have finally had enough.  Via the Toronto Star:

“He doesn’t act like a presidential candidate and some days he hardly acts like an adult,” said Nick Lucasti, 19, an engineering student in Indiana. “The constant name-calling and slander are not necessary.”

Lucasti had once liked Trump’s outspokenness and promise to improve border security. After the Republican convention a month ago, he decided he could no longer tolerate the businessman’s refusal to moderate his remarks or make his vague pledges more specific and realistic.

“For a while I thought he was very metaphorical — his ‘wall’ was really just a metaphor for him wanting to secure the borders,” said Lucasti, now undecided. “After months of watching him, though, I now know for sure that this guy honestly wants to build a concrete wall hundreds of miles long. Just ridiculous.”

It is impossible to know how many supporters have become defectors. Swing-state polls, though, show a decline in his share of the vote as Clinton’s has increased sharply. In must-win Pennsylvania, he has fallen from 44 per cent in July to 40 per cent today. In New Hampshire, he has gone from 42 per cent to 36 per cent.

“He has been crushed in the last couple weeks,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “He’s losing people from every possible demographic.”

And he is struggling with the right far more than Democratic nominee Clinton is struggling with the left. Clinton has the support of about 90 per cent of Democrats, Trump about 80 per cent of Republicans.

“A lot of the summer has not been used well,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion.

The Star interviewed 10 people who have recently ditched Trump or wavered. They cited a wide variety of complaints: his vice-presidential choice of religious conservative Mike Pence, his insistence that Barack Obama is “the founder” of Daesh, also known as ISIS and ISIL, even his rejection of a debate with Bernie Sanders. By far the most common concern, though, was his behaviour.

“There was just something off about him,” said Alabama finance student Frank Smyser, 21, who ditched Trump a month ago in favour of Libertarian Gary Johnson.

Or, “it’s all fun and games until someone blows up a country.”

It was one thing to vote for Trump during the primary when you were picking for a candidate, but now when it means that the name on the ballot could be the one in the White House… wait, he said what?

Nice People

Just the sort of people who will be helping Donald Trump reach out to minorities.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump’s paid campaign staffers have declared on their personal social media accounts that Muslims are unfit to be U.S. citizens, mocked how Mexicans talk, called for Secretary of State John Kerry to be hanged and stated their readiness for a possible civil war, according to a review by The Associated Press of their postings.

The AP examined the social media feeds of more than 50 current and former campaign employees who helped propel Trump through the primary elections. The campaign has employed a mix of veteran political operatives and outsiders. Most come across as dedicated, enthusiastic partisans, but at least seven expressed views that were overtly racially charged, supportive of violent actions or broadly hostile to Muslims.

A graphic designer for Trump’s advance team approvingly posted video of a black man eating fried chicken and criticizing fellow blacks for ignorance, irresponsibility and having too many children. A Trump field organizer in Virginia declared that Muslims were seeking to impose Sharia law in America and that “those who understand Islam for what it is are gearing up for the fight.”

The AP’s findings come at a time when Trump is showing new interest in appealing to minority voters, insisting he will be fair in dealing with the 11 million people in the U.S. illegally and explicitly pitching himself to African-Americans, saying “what do you have to lose?”

Wingnuts need jobs too, y’know.

Short Takes

Virginia re-enfranchises 13,000 ex-felons.

White House fires back at critics for LA flood response.

Lots more of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails to be released.

What’s up with Trump’s immigration policy?

N.C. trooper fatally shoots deaf man after traffic stop.

Tropical Update: Invest 99L could be interesting to South Florida.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Don’t Feed The Troll

Good advice from David Sax in the Guardian on how to deal with Donald Trump the troll.

By being the world’s most effective button-pusher, Donald Trump has brought the tactics of trolling out into the real world, where they are much more difficult to combat. And that is the single biggest problem with him running a presidential campaign like an online flame war. The tools that work to snuff trolls out online – muting, blocking and deleting accounts – don’t exist in the real world, particularly when the individual in question is guaranteed around-the-clock news coverage up until election day.

“He is now the Republican nominee,” says Reagle. “You can ban someone in an online community, but you can’t ban Trump.”

We might not be able to ban Trump, but experts agree that there are tactical ways to mitigate his impact. The question is, how can we use them?

Do not engage

“We’ve found that engaging with trolls will get them the very attention they want. Any engagement is really adding fuel to their fire,” says Jan Reischek, senior vice-president of ICUC Americas. This means that Clinton and her supporters should never resort to trolling behavior themselves, no matter what Trump says. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz fell for this, reacting to Trump’s name calling with sneers that only emboldened Trump. “I worry about Elizabeth Warren,” says Powazek, referring to the Democratic Massachusetts senator that Trump has insultingly called “Pochahontas”, and who consistently fights with him on Twitter. “She’s out there fighting fire with fire, but tactically it’s a mistake, because it allows him to set the tone of the debate, and the debate is in the mud. If you fight fire with fire on that, everyone burns.”

Instead, Democrats need to act more like New Jersey senator Corey Booker, who responded on television to a Trump insult by professing his love and concern for Trump’s mental sanity. “Treat him like a seven-year-old having a tantrum and focus on the substantive issues,” says Powazek.

Keep it factual, not personal

Deprive Trump of the emotional reactions he thrives off by focusing on policy and facts, two areas that are his proven weaknesses. Bog him down in specifics, and hold his feet to the fire on statements he makes on complicated issues like defense and fiscal policy, where his trolling tactics are of no use. Bill Eddy says this is the most effective way for dealing with high-conflict personalities. “Respond with information as assertively as the other side is responding aggressively. Aggressive tries to destroy the other party, but assertive stands up for yourself. It’s not personal.”

Defuse the anger

Trolls live to stoke rage. That is all they can do. Friendliness is their kryptonite. Clinton should muster every diplomatic skill she picked up at the state department and keep every public interaction friendly, no matter how much she despises Trump. “You have to ignore the living hell out of it,” says West.

This is obviously easier said than done, especially for the media, which may take issue with Trump’s message and tactics, but is nonetheless compelled to cover the presidential nominee.

It’s harder than you think, but it can be done.  Yell at the TV, then get out there and vote.